Call for Contributions Fall 2016 - Big Ideas and Making Connections

Chemical Education Xchange

THE DEADLINE FOR THIS CALL HAS PASSED. However, ChemEd X continues to accept manuscripts. Visit the page for more information.


What Is A Big Idea?

“Big Ideas” are statements of the main principles on which the curriculum is focused. Having a theme anchor the curriculum helps students make connections within the chemistry content and among other content areas. The concept of organizing science and chemistry content into “big ideas” has been a focus of several recent initiatives. AP chemistry (fig. 1) teachers have used "big ideas" for several years now. Similarly, the Next Generation Science Standards (fig. 2) that will be implemented within the next few years in many states also uses "big ideas". The Next Generation Science Standards separate science topics into physical, life and earth/space sciences. So, the big ideas under Physical Science allow teachers to make connections between chemistry and physics content. This stands in sharp contrast to the division of content that veteran teachers are accustom. A wealth of professional development activities offer to guide teachers toward using these “big ideas”.


BIG IDEA 1: The chemical elements are fundamental building materials of matter, and all matter can be understood in terms of arrangements of atoms. These atoms retain their identity in chemical reactions.
BIG IDEA 2: Chemical and physical properties of materials can be explained by the structure and the arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules and the forces between them.
BIG IDEA 3: Changes in matter involve the rearrangement and/or reorganization of atoms and/or the transfer of electrons.
BIG IDEA 4: Rates of chemical reactions are determined by details of the molecular collisions.
BIG IDEA 5: The laws of thermodynamics describe the essential role of energy and explain and predict the direction of changes in matter.
BIG IDEA 6: Any bond or intermolecular attraction that can be formed can be broken. These two processes are in a dynamic competition, sensitive to initial conditions and external perturbations.

Fig. 1. The AP Chemistry Curriculum is organized with six Big Ideas. Taken from the AP Chemistry Course Overview


Structure and Properties of Matter Structure and Function Space Systems
Chemical Reactions Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems History of Earth
Forces and Interactions Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems Earth’s Systems
Energy Inheritance and Variation of Traits Weather and Climate
Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation Natural Selection and Evolution Human Sustainability

Fig. 2. The Next Generation Science Standards are divided into three categories: Physical Science, Life Science and Earth & Space Science. Each of these categories are further organized into several Big Ideas. Most traditional chemistry content can be found under the Physical Science category.

Call for Contributions

Chemical Education Xchange (ChemEd X) is interested in learning about the progress teachers have made, experiences that teachers have had, areas that are causing difficulty and more as they transition to using Big Ideas to organize chemistry and other science content. For this reason, we are initiating our first content specific Call for Contributions centered around the concept of “Big Ideas and Making Connections”.

Accepting contributions through August 8, 2016.

The deadline for making a contribution to this call is Monday, August 8, 2016. Authors are encouraged to read the before creating their contribution.

Some examples of items that you might contribute:

  • Have you used a resource that you would recommend that may help others work with Big Ideas? You might contribute a PICK review type manuscript. The PICK manuscript type is generally one to three paragraphs in length. .
  • Share your ideas in a Blog post. For the purpose of this Call, the minimum length of a Blog post should be four paragraphs. Blogs are edited by ChemEd X editorial staff, but might not be peer reviewed. Some items you might blog about include, but are not limited to:
    • Share your experience with the Big Ideas defined in the restructured AP chemistry curriculum, Next Generation Science Standards or your own state/district.
    • Explain how you organize/use Big Ideas in the chemistry curriculum.
    • Share the Big Ideas you use within a specific unit or throughout the entire course.
  • Share a project/lab/activity that you use to pull together the content within a Big Idea. Contributions of this type should include a document tailored to the students doing the activity and a separate document for the teacher assigning the activity. This manuscript type is peer reviewed.
  • You may want compile your own thoughts about an aspect of using big ideas to make connections including references to support those ideas in an Article. Articles are at least four paragraphs in length and are peer reviewed.

How to Submit Your Big Idea and Making Connections Contribution

Please use the form to submit your work by following the instructions on the form. All contributors must have created an account with ChemEd X and be logged into that account in order to submit a contribution. All submitted contributions are subject to peer review and acceptance by ChemEd X Editorial Staff. Should your submission be published, authors are expected to answer questions that may be posed by the ChemEd X community via comments on their contribution.